News / Europe

Turkey Crisis Undermines Erdogan's EU Meeting

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2014.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2014.
Dorian Jones
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit this week to Brussels is being touted as an important step in putting the country's membership bid back on track. But the visit is being overshadowed by a growing political crisis in Turkey. A month-old corruption investigation led by a group of Turkish prosecutors has targeted dozens of Erdogan's allies. The prime minister says the wide-ranging probe - in which dozens of his allies were arrested and more than 20 charged with money laundering, bribery and zoning law infractions-is a foreign-backed "judicial coup."

Erdogan's first visit to European Union's capital in five years was to have signaled fresh momentum in ties after the EU in November agreed to reopen membership negotiations following a three-year freeze.

But, diplomatic columnist Kadri Gursel of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet and Al Monitor website warned Erdogan could face a difficult visit following what many call a purge of the police and judiciary. 

"He is going there as a prime minister whose legitimacy is impaired. He is under heavy scrutiny. He is under heavy criticism, because this recent intervention to the justice. There is a strong raising of concerns because of the fact Turkey is losing its character of state of law," said Gursel.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet with leading members of the EU Commission and European Parliament. The EU Commission has voiced concern that the Turkish government's proposed legal reforms threaten the separation of powers, a key membership requirement. But Erdogan dismissed such concerns.

"It's nobody's job to make a statement about Turkey's move over judicial reform," he said. "I'm sorry but I won't buy statements like 'these...we know how to read and write," he said.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum said how Erdogan reacted to the expected criticism could determine the country's future relations with the EU.

"Last year’s warming up may end abruptly this Tuesday. The ball is in the prime minister’s field. He will decide whether to back down or whether he will push for it, which would mean a major crisis with the EU because it would mean Turkey is definitely regressing not progressing any more," said Aktar.

With the Turkish public's support for its EU bid at record lows, a showdown with Brussels, observers claim, could play well with his grassroots base. This is an important consideration with key local elections due to be held in March followed by presidential polls later in the summer and national elections the following year. 

But diplomatic columnist Gursel warned that the prime minister could pay a high price for any showdown with Brussels.

"If this prime minister resorts to EU bashing as a last option, to please his constituency, this will absolutely destroy what it is left of Turkey’s image and legitimacy. And will [take] its own toll on the economy itself. Turkey needs to be predictable," he said.

The current political instability has already hit the financial markets hard with the Turkish currency hitting record lows. Observers warn a diplomatic crisis with the EU will do little inspire faith of international investors.

You May Like

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More